Monday, June 19, 2017

Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor by Barbara Roth

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Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor
by Barbara Roth


ISBN-13: 9781633221956
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Released: May 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Whether in your backyard or while traveling the world, Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor is an inspirational, easy-to-use reference guide for artists who seek to expand their artistic horizons in new and adventurous ways.

After a basic overview of tools and materials, learn how to find inspiration and beauty everywhere and in everything. Discover how to create a portable pack-and-carry supply box to create art spontaneously, even while on the go. Basic drawing and painting techniques, approachable step-by-step projects, and instructions for working with tools outside the studio demonstrate how easy it is to draw and paint without too much advanced planning.

Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor inspires artists of all skill levels to embrace their creative side to create beautiful works of art wherever they might be, from Monet's garden in Giverny, France, to sitting in their car on a rainy morning.


My Review:
Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor is a art book that will help you create a portable watercolor kit or get set up to paint during short breaks. The author described what tools and materials are best suited for portable watercolor painting. She briefly described how to sketch a scene and then paint it, and how to do this from a photo. She very briefly described color theory and different watercolor techniques. She then provided 12 step-by-step painting projects that are fairly simple to draw and paint. The cover painting is one of those projects.

The author's basic technique is to sketch out a scene then paint in the colors with watercolor (without getting too detailed). While the author did give some tips that would be helpful for beginners, it's aimed at people already familiar with the basics of watercolor. For example, there are no pictures of what a "puddle of paint" looks like or how to do a flat wash. She assumes that you know what that means or can guess based on her text descriptions.

In the step-by-step projects, she tells the reader what colors to use for different objects and what technique to use to apply it. The changes between the steps were small enough that I could see what was being done and didn't feel confused about what she was describing. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those who like her style and want to go more portable.

I've tried a few of the step-by-step projects, and my end product looked better than my watercolors ever have in the past. I think it's having the pencil or ink along with the watercolor. I'm glad I tried out this book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Quest for Security, 1715-1740 by Penfield Roberts

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The Quest for Security, 1715-1740
by Penfield Roberts


Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Harper & Row
Released: 1963

Source: Bought at a Friends of the Library book sale.

Book Description:
Series about changes in Europe from medieval period to "modern" period.


My Review:
The Quest for Security, 1715-1740 is the eighth book in The Rise of Modern Europe series. It covered all of Europe during 1715-1740. The chapters were organized by topic. Some quotes from people from that time helped make it more interesting. The author's writing style was also more readable and interesting the the earlier books in this series that I've read.

The author talked about the changes in political and religious power, how wars affected things, economic and social changes (especially the changing concept of personal property), and new ideas in art and science. I was very interested to learn that the people we think of as "land owners" didn't actually own the land but merely had certain rights regarding the land (like rents, annuities, etc.). Now I wish I had a book that solely explored this topic as this book only covered one point in time.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Mysteries of the Ancient World by National Geographic

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Mysteries of the Ancient World

ISBN-13: 9780870442544
Hardback: 233 pages
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Released: May 1, 1979

Source: Bought at a Friends of the Library book sale.

My Book Description:
The book covers cave paintings, neolithic Jericho, Çatal Hüyük, the Egyptian pyramids, the oldest known Indian cities, the various megaliths in Europe, the Minoans, the Mycenaens, the Etruscans, and the Easter Islander stone heads.


My Review:
Mysteries of the Ancient World looks at some ancient, mysterious civilizations. The author(s) write about visiting site, what they see, and what the people working on the site think about what the various structures were used for (which involves a lot of speculation). The basic attitude was that these ancient builders were intelligent, capable people. They simply didn't leave behind explanations of some of their more mysterious works.

The book covered cave paintings, neolithic Jericho, Çatal Hüyük, the Egyptian pyramids, the oldest known Indian cities, the various megaliths in Europe, the Minoans, the Mycenaens, the Etruscans, and the Easter Islander stone heads. About half of the book is full-color pictures of the sites and artifacts found there. I really enjoyed the pictures, and the text was interesting (though it's more a survey of ideas than a close look at the structures).


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The China Study Family Cookbook by Del Sroufe

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The China Study Family Cookbook
by Del Sroufe


ISBN-13: 9781944648114
Paperback: 302 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: May 30, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
So you've learned about the benefits of a plant-based diet, but now you need to successfully make the transition and convince your family to do the same. The China Study Family Cookbook is the family-friendly cookbook and guide you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to make plant-based eating easier and even more rewarding for your family.

Chef Del Sroufe--author of The China Study Quick & Easy Cookbook and Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook--provides 100 easy, flavorful recipes—with reinvented family classics. The cookbook includes:

Mac & Cheese
Cream of Tomato Soup
White Bean and Squash Chili
Wheatberry Sloppy Joes
Meatball Subs
Hush Puppies
Creamed Corn Casserole
Breakfast Tacos
Biscuits and Gravy
Peanut Butter Cookies
Chocolate Donuts

The China Study Family Cookbook offers stories from plant-based advocates whose whole families have adopted a plant-based lifestyle—and how they got their spouses and children on board. It also gives tips for getting your kids involved in the kitchen and fostering their love of plant-based cooking. The China Study Family Cookbook even includes strategies to negotiate the family menu from families made up of both those who eat plant-based and those who don’t.


My Review:
The China Study Family Cookbook is a whole food, plant-based (vegan) cookbook containing 100 recipes. It's intended for families, so most of the recipes were for 4 or 6 or 8 people. The author also explained how to get kids involved with making the food (so many of the recipes are fairly easy to make). He also assumed that the reader had little experience in the kitchen, so he explained things like knife safety.

The cookbook is targeted at people who are used to popular, Standard American Diet foods. He has healthy versions of hot cocoa, baked donuts, Mac & Cheese (with no cheese), meatballs (with no meat), and so on. The intent is for a similar taste and texture experience, but with much healthier ingredients. Some recipes did use gluten-containing grains or tree nuts (if this is a concern for you), but others didn't. There were pictures of the finished products, many of which looked very tasty.

There were also some short articles about people who went vegan, why, and how they did it when the rest of their family wasn't interested in eating vegan. Overall, I'd recommend this cookbook to people with families who are interested in adding more whole-food, plant-based meals to their diet.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Book of Greens by Jenn Louis, Kathleen Squires

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The Book of Greens
by Jenn Louis, Kathleen Squires


ISBN-13: 9781607749844
Hardcover: 328 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Released: April 11, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
From one of Portland, Oregon's most acclaimed chefs comes this encyclopedic reference to the world of greens. It's for any home cook who wants to cook delicious, vegetable-focused meals, but is tired of predictable salads with kale, lettuce, cabbage, and the other usual suspects. Chef Jenn Louis has compiled more than 150 recipes for simple, show-stopping fare, from snacks to soups to mains (and even breakfast and dessert) that will inspire you to reach for new greens at the farmers' market, or use your old standbys in totally fresh ways.

Organized alphabetically by green, each entry features information on seasonality, nutrition, and prep and storage tips, along with recipes like Grilled Cabbage with Miso and Lime, Radish Greens and Mango Smoothie, and Pasta Dough with Tomato Leaves.


My Review:
The Book of Greens explains how to use 40 varieties of leafy greens in your cooking and provides 175 recipes that include those greens. These are not "healthy" recipes. She adds the greens to dishes that use cheese, cream, eggs, fish or meat and use a lot of oil or sugar. Since she's trying to get a specific blend of taste and texture, I doubt the dishes will taste as good if you remove or replace some of the ingredients. She's traveled a lot, so there are recipes from other cultures in addition to adding greens to more Western foods.

The book is organized around the Greens information pages. The Greens are listed alphabetically and include pictures of the greens and information about what season they grow in, what foods they pair well with, and how to choose, clean, store, refresh, and cook them. After the information page for a specific Green, she provided recipes that used that Green. The recipes usually served 4 but varied between serving 1 and 12 people. Some recipes were simple, while others had many steps and involved more time and effort.

The book also had a few templates, like for how to make a salad (add a food from this list, then add a food from this group, and so on). I did find the information pages about the greens to be useful, but I'd expected a book that helped healthy eaters to find new, tasty ways to eat their greens. But it's more targeted at foodies than health nuts.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

YumUniverse Pantry to Plate by Heather Crosby

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YumUniverse Pantry to Plate
by Heather Crosby


ISBN-13: 9781615193400
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: The Experiment
Released: May 16, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Cooking at home is good for you, but sometimes it’s nice to eat without planning (and shopping) ahead of time! Enter YumUniverse Pantry to Plate: Improvise Meals You Love—from What You Have!—Plant-Packed, Gluten-Free, Your Way!

In this one-of-a-kind recipe playbook, healthy living enthusiast Heather Crosby shares ingenious master recipes that home cooks can customize endlessly. For example: Pick any grain, one or more veggies, and a complementary aromatic, sauté them together in your choice of sauces, and voilà! You’ve just improvised a hearty, nutritious “scramble.”

Are you a recipe renegade who likes to bend the “rules”? A new vegan or vegetarian seeking more kitchen confidence? Are you tired of going shopping for just one missing ingredient in a recipe? Infinite possibilities await you in your own YumUniverse!


My Review:
YumUniverse Pantry to Plate is a vegan (no meat, dairy, or eggs), gluten-free cookbook. The author provides 30 recipe templates that you can customize based on what you like (or have on hand). She also provided 100 recipes based off of those templates so you can see some of the possibilities. Most of the recipes take between 15-40 minutes to create.

These recipes look fairly simple in terms of cooking skill required. However, the author didn't spend much time explaining how to cook or what the different ingredients can bring to the overall taste, so it may be hit or miss in terms of the resulting taste of the dish. Also, many of the recipes had a lot of added sweetening and/or oil, though these were usually optional additions.

I've tried several of the recipes. They tasted good, and one was quite tasty. One turned out to be less work than the template format made it look like. Overall, I felt like these recipes were more for committed gluten-free vegans than for tempting people to eat more vegan meals.

The templates: For breakfast, a veggie and grain stir-fry, granola, pancakes and waffles, muffins, warm cereals, or breakfast cookies. In addition to some recipes for sauces and creams, she provided templates for compotes and fruit butters, coconut yogurt, and dairy-free milk. For lunch and snacks, it's gluten-free crackers, amazeballs, dairy-free fermented cream cheese, dips and spreads, crunchies, fermented veggies, bites and tots, veggie fries, and soups. For main meals, it's cheesy comfort food, epic salads, veggie sushi makis, tacos and wraps, 'banza bakes, veggie burgers, and hand pies. For sweets, it's cookies, crispy bars, brownies, coconut-based ice cream, and crisps and crumbles.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Dawn of a New Era by Edward P. Cheyney

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The Dawn of a New Era
by Edward P. Cheyney


ISBN-13: 9780061384004
Trade Paperback: 389 pages
Publisher: Harper Torchbooks
Released: 1962

Source: Bought at a book sale.

Book Description from Amazon:
The first book in The Rise of Modern Europe series. The merit of this book consists in its mature presentation of the best results of modern scholarship within a broad but defined range of topics. Its value is enhanced by authoritative bibliography, compiled, like others in this series, with helpful critical comments.


My Review:
The Dawn of a New Era is the first book in The Rise of Modern Europe series. It covered all of Europe during 1250-1453. The chapters were organized by topic rather than chronologically.

The author talked about how this was a period of expansion in trading, which led to a growing middle class that had wealth. These merchants could then lend their money, which kings needed, so they were increasingly included along with the nobles and the clergy in government-related councils. He talked about how this worked out in various countries.

He talked about various peasant-class insurrections, the Hundred Years War, and the decline of the power of the Catholic church over governments. He talked about John Wyclif, the Lollards, and John Hus. He talked about the increased use of vernacular language in speech, literature, and university, church, and government documents. He talked about Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, and Giotto. He also talked about Marco Polo and the Far East as well as the eastern frontier of Europe.

Frankly, it reads like a textbook. Some parts, like the section on the insurrections, came across as disconnected facts that I'm unlikely to remember. However, I did find interesting the sections that showed how one thing lead to another (like the rise of middle class wealth led to their representation in the government).


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.